Atmospheric Science, Bachelor of Science College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences


Atmospheric science is the study of the air that surrounds the planet. It includes all weather phenomena and climate including global and regional climate change, the chemistry of trace constituents and cloud and particle formation, interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere, as well as quantitative studies of climate extremes and severe weather, including droughts, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The study of the impacts of human and other biotic activity on the quality of the air we breathe are important topics in the major.

The Program

Modern atmospheric science is a quantitative science that is reflected in the major's curriculum. In addition to the study of daily weather events, the program deals with fundamental dynamical and physical processes that involve the general circulation of the atmosphere; turbulent mass and energy transfer at the planetary surface as well as within the free atmosphere; the transfer of solar and terrestrial radiation throughout the atmosphere; atmospheric interaction with the biosphere; climate variations; and developments in remote sensing using satellites with modern meteorological instrumentation. In addition, the program has significant expertise in the areas of air quality and its related atmospheric chemistry. As well as providing a broad background in meteorology, the major includes an informal minor area to be chosen from mathematics, computer science, environmental studies, resource management or a physical or biological science. For more information, see Atmospheric Science.

Note. Alternative options for students who are interested in atmospheric science are to minor in ATM, to major in ESM and choose the climate change and air quality track, or to major in applied physics with a concentration in atmospheric physics. However, the ATM minor, the ESM climate change and air quality track, and the applied physics major do not meet the Federal civil service requirements for meteorologists.

Internships & Career Opportunities

Atmospheric science students have participated in internships with the California Air Resources Board, various county Air Pollution Control Districts, the National Weather Service, and performing research. Job opportunities include: national weather services, weather forecasting for broadcast media or private forecasting firms, environmental consulting firms (such as environmental impact reports, wind farm siting), government agencies at all levels from local (air quality districts, planning departments, etc.) to state (Air Resources Board) to national (NOAA), and companies whose operations are impacted by weather (such as airlines, futures markets). About half of our graduates continue their education by seeking an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in atmospheric science or related areas.

Lead Faculty Advisor

Kyaw Tha Paw U

Atmospheric Science Major Advisor

Lacole Brooks

Advising Center for the major, is located in 1150 Plant & Environmental Sciences Building in Land, Air & Water Resources Teaching Center; 530-752-1603.

Graduate Study

You can specialize in particular areas of atmospheric science through graduate study and research leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. For details, see Atmospheric Science (Graduate Group) & Graduate Studies.

The major requirements below are in addition to meeting University Degree Requirements & College Degree Requirements; unless otherwise noted. The minimum number of units required for the Atmospheric Science Bachelor of Science is 123.

Written Expression. Also Counts Toward College English Composition Requirement
UWP 101Advanced Composition4
or UWP 101V Advanced Composition
or UWP 101Y Advanced Composition
Choose one:
Writing in the Disciplines: Special Topics
Writing in the Disciplines: Biology
Writing in the Disciplines: History
Writing in the Disciplines: International Relations
Writing in the Disciplines: Engineering
Writing in the Disciplines: Food Science & Technology
Writing in the Disciplines: Environmental Writing
Writing in the Disciplines: Human Development & Psychology
Writing in the Disciplines: Ethnic Studies
Writing in the Disciplines: Fine Arts
Writing in the Disciplines: Film Studies
Writing in the Disciplines: Community & Regional Development
Writing in the Disciplines: Anthropology
Writing in the Professions: Business Writing
Writing in the Professions: Business Writing
Writing in the Professions: Business Writing
Writing in the Professions: Law
Writing in the Professions: Journalism
Writing in the Professions: Elementary & Secondary Education
Writing in the Professions: Science
Writing in the Professions: Internships
Writing in the Professions: Health
Writing in the Professions: Health
Writing in the Professions: Health
Writing in the Professions: Writing for Social Justice
Writing in the Professions: Technical Writing (or Course selected with advisor's approval.)
Written Expression Subtotal4
Preparatory Subject Matter
Choose one:4
Introduction to Programming
or course selected with advisor's approval.
ATM 060Introduction to Atmospheric Science4
CHE 002AGeneral Chemistry5
CHE 002BGeneral Chemistry5
MAT 021ACalculus4
MAT 021BCalculus4
MAT 021CCalculus4
MAT 021DVector Analysis4
MAT 022ALinear Algebra3
or MAT 027A Linear Algebra with Applications to Biology
or BIS 027A Linear Algebra with Applications to Biology
MAT 022BDifferential Equations3
or MAT 027B Differential Equations with Applications to Biology
or BIS 027B Differential Equations with Applications to Biology
PHY 009AClassical Physics5
PHY 009BClassical Physics5
PHY 009CClassical Physics5
PLS 002Botany & Physiology of Cultivated Plants4
STA 013Elementary Statistics4
or STA 013Y Elementary Statistics
Preparatory Subject Matter Subtotal63
Depth Subject Matter
ATM 110Weather Observation & Analysis4
ATM 111Weather Analysis & Prediction3
ATM 111LYWeather Analysis & Prediction Laboratory2
ATM 120Atmospheric Thermodynamics & Cloud Physics4
ATM 121AAtmospheric Dynamics4
ATM 121BAtmospheric Dynamics4
ATM 124Meteorological Instruments & Observations3
ATM 128Radiation & Satellite Meteorology4
2 units from:2
Atmospheric Science Internship
Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates
Choose two upper division Atmospheric Science (ATM) courses selected with advisor's approval; excluding 192 & 199.7
Choose one computer numerical programming class:4
Engineering Problem Solving
Introduction to Computer Methods in Physical Sciences
Course selected with advisor's approval.
Depth Subject Matter Subtotal41
Restricted Electives
Coordinated group of courses (informal minor area) to be chosen with advisor's approval from mathematics, computer science, environmental studies, communication, resource management, or a physical or biological science (at least 10 upper division units)15
Restricted Electives Subtotal15
Total Units123